Businesses are embracing these technologies so they can deliver all-important improvements in customer experience, but they’re discovering that technology alone is insufficient.

Today’s customers have come to expect a friction-less, high-level experience while shopping, regardless of whether they’re doing that shopping in-person or online. The quality of this experience could even matter more than the cost and quality of the products themselves. Marketers have discovered this key fact, and 89 percent of today’s marketers differentiate their brand by the nature of the customer experience it offers.

Businesses that serve customers in-person, such as hotels, restaurants, banks and retail outlets, are investing in various technology in an effort to make the customer experience as pleasant and streamlined as possible. Some of the innovations they are selecting for this purpose include:

  • Mobile applications: The ease of access and unique functions offered by mobile apps are transforming the customer relationships in the travel and hospitality industries. Hilton CMO Geraldine Calpin puts it this way: “Technology gives us an amazing toolkit to redefine the guest experience in game-changing ways. The trick is to use these technology tools to find new and better ways we can deliver white glove treatment.”
  • Internet of Things (IoT): Increasingly, the excitement connected with wearables is being leveraged to improve the customer experience. Disney has expanded into the IoT in a major way, investing over $1 billion in IoT solutions, wearable tech and scent.
  • Analytics: The more accurately a business understands its customers, the better and more personalized an experience it can provide them. Analytic tools are now able to predict, assemble and organize disparate customer data points to gain a clearer picture of each buyer persona.

REDUCING FRICTION IS ONLY THE BEGINNING

Businesses are embracing these technologies so they can deliver all-important improvements in customer experience, but they’re discovering that technology alone is insufficient.

Of course you need to reduce the “friction” created by a poorly designed online shop or a badly laid-out physical retail space. Eliminating errors and streamlining customer experience is a basic beginning point. However, to truly get the most out of your marketing, you must appeal to the human side of your customers.

Customers are human beings, and the quality of their experience is primarily rooted in the emotional realm. Reaching a person’s deeper feelings and motivations is essential if a shopping experience is to be truly pleasurable. The ability to create this pleasure is an art as well as a science, and marketers must choose their tools accordingly. As a result, the customer experience is rapidly being transformed by today’s most skillful and effective marketers.

VIRTUAL VALET SERVICE

Hotel chains now issue special perks to their best customers via mobile applications, enabling them to check in, choose rooms, unlock doors and text room service, all with a few clicks. Wait times in line are decreased and experiences are personalized, all through individual knowledge of each customer’s history and preferences. Essentially, this personalization amounts to a type of digital VIP treatment.

ENGAGING THE SENSES AND EMOTIONS

It’s not enough to just provide electronic perks, however. Human beings exist in a physical and emotional realm, not solely in an electronic one. For that reason, marketers are taking time to consider ways in which they can offer delightful physical experiences. Here are a few customer perks for you to consider:

THE ATTRACTIVE POWER OF SCENT

The fact that various aromas connect to brain regions associated with emotion and impulse is not a new discovery. Real estate agents have known for decades that it’s a good idea to bake cinnamon-scented goodies right before an open house. However, more retailers are paying fresh attention to the olfactory sense in the interests of creating relaxation and pleasure for their customers. Research with the Smell and Taste Foundation found that people purchased more shoes — and were willing to pay $10 more — in a retail environment filled with a floral scent, as compared with an unscented environment.

AUDITORY BEHAVIORAL CUES

The pacing of background music also has a measurable effect on shoppers or diners. Unlike fragrance, musical cues are a highly specific channel for targeting your audience. Choose your ideal customer personas, and find out their musical preferences to evoke the most positive emotional associations. Be careful to select the best volume to make the music audible without being distracting or drowning out conversation.

VISUAL FLASH AND DAZZLE

With the continuously evolving possibilities offered by virtual reality, retailers are venturing into previously unimagined areas with the visual experience they offer their customers. Lowe’s lets customers preview possible room designs with an Oculus VR headset, placing the customer in an immersive holographic shopping experience. Other retailers make use of technologies such as interactive in-store catalogs, personalized merchandising through beacons and geo-fenced mobile apps, and much more.

A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT

In addition to sensory pleasures, customer experience is enhanced by providing the customer with a chance to win something or learn something new. Webinars and other instructional opportunities are easier than ever to share with users, letting them take away new knowledge whenever they have contact with your brand.

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER

Emergent understanding of customer experience consulting clearly indicates that marketers need to integrate a sustained focus on the physical and psychological tools available to them, as well as create a friction-less, streamlined shopping experience. Maintaining an emphasis on the sensory and emotional responses of the people to whom you are marketing is essential to making the highest and best use of digital technologies you employ to engage your customers.